• Defined by Death: The Contemporary American Novel as Thanatomimesis

    Author(s):
    A. Lewis (see profile)
    Date:
    2007
    Group(s):
    TC Religion and Literature, TM Literary Criticism
    Subject(s):
    Death, Literary theory
    Item Type:
    Essay
    Tag(s):
    American novel, thanatology, Walter Benjamin, anxiety
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/M66D6D
    Abstract:
    Death drives the contemporary American novel and its market in the late-20th and early 21st-century. To help illustrate this, we consider Don DeLillo’s White Noise from 1985 and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road from 2006 for something that Walter Benjamin -- famously quoted as saying “Death is the sanction of everything the story-teller can tell" -- may have failed to appreciate: while the location and visibility of Death may change in society, the American mania over mortality cannot be so easily displaced or dispatched, especially in literature. Death no longer lies at the center of a narrative but has been internalized, as it were, by the fictional characters that mimic real-life mortality for readers themselves to emulate. The characters of a novel engage in thanatomimesis, in protagonist hero-modeling, so that readers have a system by which to manage their own death anxieties.
    Metadata:
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    7 months ago
    License:
    Attribution-NonCommercial

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